Glen S. Ramos

SAN FERNANDO City, La Union — As part of the Department of Health’s (DOH) implementation of the “Prevention of Blindness Program” (PBP), the Center for Health Development-Ilocos Region in partnership with the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center (ITRMC) and the National Institutes of Health through the Philippine Eye Research Institute yesterday successfully launched its mobile eye clinic in Barangay Catbangen, San Fernando City, La Union to provide diabetic retinopathy screening for diabetic patients in the city.

“We will be implementing a “total market approach” in the management and prevention of blindness by reaching our target clients and bringing the needed health care services to their communities,” Regional Director Paula Paz M. Sydiongco stated.

ITRMC opthalmologists Abigail A. Tesoro (L) and Carmela S. Gabrillo (R) conduct an eye exam using indirect ophthalmoscopy on diabetic residents of Brgy. Catbangen in San Fernando City, La Union, an exam of the inside of the back of the eye using a beam of light and a hand-held lens that gives a wider view inside the eye during the launching of the DOH eye mobile clinic on April 5, 2022. 

“The mobile eye clinic will provide comprehensive eye examination to diabetic patients at no cost. Individuals who are found to have an ophthalmic disease that requires treatment including laser treatment, or surgery, will be given the necessary operative care,” Sydiongco added.

Among the priority barangays that will be visited are Sevilla (April 6), Bacsil (April 7), and Lingsat (April 8) where a high incidence of diabetic patients was recorded.

Eye examinations that will be conducted are indirect ophthalmoscopy, fundus photography, macular optical coherence tomography (OCT), and fluorescein angiography. These processes enable ophthalmologists to get a good look at the eyes and examine them for any signs of damage or disease due to diabetes.

Ophthalmologists perform pupil dilation tests where some eye drops are given to widen the pupil of the eye to check for eye diseases while another performs fundus photography to an elderly to look into the interior of the eye through the pupil to check for diseases during the launching of the eye mobile clinic held at Brgy Catbangen in San Fernando City, La Union on April 5, 2022.

There are a total of 8,539 cases of diabetes mellitus in La Union with San Fernando City having the most number of patients with 1,981 followed by the municipalities of San Juan with 836, Naguilian – 800, Bauang – 716, and Agoo with 700.

DOH Regional Program Manager of Non-Communicable Disease Francisco de Vera Jr. said that the province has the highest prevalence of diabetes mellitus cases in region 1, which is a major cause of blindness.

“Kailangang lahat ng services at level of care ay accessible at maibigay sa kanila, from preventive-promotive-curative-rehabilitative, upang masiguro natin na sila ay mapangalaagaan at mapigilan ang pagkakaroon nila ng visual impairment o pagkabulag.”

A senior citizen afflicted with diabetes undergoes a visual acuity test where he determines the smallest letters he can read on a standardized Snellen chart held 20 feet (6 meters) away as part of the eye screening examination held at Brgy. Catbangen in San Fernando, La Union during the launching of the DOH eye mobile clinic on April 5, 2022.

“The eyes are an important part of your health. They are the windows to a person’s soul. It is important to keep them healthy and make sure you’re seeing them at your best,” De Vera emphasized.

A total of 130 diabetic patients were screened during yesterday’s activity. The mobile eye clinic will target a total of 100 diabetic patients per day starting April 5 to July 31, 2022. Free eyeglasses were also distributed to individuals to aid and correct their vision and to help them see clearly and sharply.

An elderly PWD receives a free eyeglass to aid in his vision to be able to see clearly and sharply after undergoing eye screening during the launching of the eye mobile clinic held at Brgy Catbangen in San Fernando City, La Union on April 5, 2022.

Eye protection is very important. Wearing protective eyewear when playing sports and at hazardous workplaces, wearing shades to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and most important is to giving your eyes a rest when they are fatigued. Use the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds to help reduce eyestrain. (ai/mtvn)

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